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Is Slash of Necessity Anti-canonical? - Mo's Journal
July 27th, 2006
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Is Slash of Necessity Anti-canonical?
I participated in comments on a post that appeared in metafandom the other day that began with someone saying “I hate slash” and went on to explain why. The OP felt a little overwhelmed by the number of comments and removed public access to the post. Since she wants no more comments, I won’t mention her name, but I will quote her, since her post prompted this one.

Her anti-slash arguments were two:

1. Slash (of the m/m variety) doesn’t show women having sex. She’s a woman, and as she said, “Kind of bluntly put, if I’m not involved, I’m not interested.”

2. Slash depends on changing characters and showing them doing things they don’t do in canon.



Well, the first item is certainly incontrovertible. If someone is only interested in reading writing that is about herself, she’ll only read her own diary (I’m reminded of Gwendolyn in The Importance of Being Earnest: “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”) Everyone must decide for herself how far from her own experience fiction must be to be uninteresting. I personally like a mix of material that I identify with and material that gives me access to a point of view and an experience that’s different from mine. Still, surely no one would fault someone who said that she does not read m/m slash because she is only interested in women’s romantic and sexual experiences. We all have our own tastes and interests.

The second one is a more interesting point, I think, although misguided. She expands it by saying:

“It's the only genre I'm aware of where the point, by definition, is to take characters and change their sexual preference. If the definition has changed, I obviously didn't get the memo. Get a copy to me and I'll be all caught up and crawl back into my hole.

Yes, I hate other kinds of fundamental character changes, like Big Bird taking out a retirement home with a AK47 (poor Oscar needed a rest from all that charity work, I thought). But, as far as I am aware, no other character change has had an entire genre devoted to it.”

A few posters, agreeing with her, said writing a nominally heterosexual character as having sex with another man would be like writing a religious character as belonging to another religion or writing that someone engaged in bestiality when canon gave no indication he’d do such a thing, etc. The common thread was the idea that being heterosexual is a major component of personality and that if a person is depicted as heterosexual in the source text (or even is not depicted as homosexual) it is clear that it would be a “fundamental character change” to show him sexually interested in or having sex with a man.

I think that my disagreement with that view is rooted in an understanding of sexual orientation and sexuality that is fundamentally different from the people who say that slash is necessarily anti-canonical. I see sexual orientation as much more of a continuum than just two boxes: heterosexual or homosexual. I don’t doubt that there are some Kinsey 6’s and some 0’s, but I think a lot more people think they are so completely on one end of the continuum than really are. And I think there are many more who mistakenly see themselves as perfect zeros (and see those around them as perfect zeros) because hetero-normative assumptions are so pervasive in our society.

All fanfic offers something that isn't in canon. As I always say "A fan's reach should exceed canon's grasp, or what's a fanfic for?" It's a challenge for all fanfic writers to write something that's new, that isn't just repeating canon, but that feels consistent with canon. After all, if someone really doesn’t want anything that’s not in canon, why would s/he read fanfic instead of just re-reading or re-watching canon?

Is “heterosexual” a fundamental component of a character’s personality? Depends on the character, I’d say. People who present as heterosexual for a period in their lives – or for their whole lives – yet have clandestine sex with members of their own sex are very much a part of our society and of many other societies. Why would it not be the case for characters in fictional societies, particularly those societies that are much like our own?

I’ll use as an example a character I’ve both written and read a lot about. For me, the fundamental components of Cyclops’s character that we see in canon are things like leadership ability, commitment to the team and its mission, and a kind of hidebound and overly restrictive adoration of order and of living up to expectations those around him have of him. I think those are the things that make him who he is and I’m interested in reading various takes on his character, provided they present those aspects of him well (with “well” being a subjective determination, of course).

Is exclusive heterosexuality fundamental to his character? I don’t think so. I think his relationship with Jean Grey is a fundamental fact of his life story, and one that any author has to deal with. A story that portrayed Scott as never having had a relationship with Jean would definitely feel anti-canonical to me, just as one would that had him never having to wear special glasses. (Side note: I hate stories where he gets “cured” and can take off the glasses, but that’s just a personal preference. Stories can be written consistent with canon where he no longer needs them, but I think it’s completely anti-canonical if he never needed them.)

So, when one is writing slash with Cyclops as one of the characters, it is necessary to contend with the Scott/Jean romance. Still, I think that slash writers do contend with that, and that we generally do in ways that are consistent with how real people behave. Many gay and bisexual men have relationships with women. Many of them hide their attraction to men from their girlfriends and wives. Some manage to hide that attraction from themselves for a period as well, convincing themselves they’ve “gotten over” their homosexual feelings or that it was “just a phase.” Many men go on for years in that belief, marrying and having children and never having sex with other men. Others have occasional, shame-filled clandestine sexual encounters over the years, telling themselves each time that it’s the last time. After many years, some of them do come out and find through that difficult process a sense of self-worth and personal integrity that was lacking in their lives before.

One of the things that makes a closeted Scott so interesting to me is that he had to have hidden his homosexuality deep enough in his brain to fool a telepath. That suggests a level of self-control that is very intriguing to me. It’s also, I think, very consistent with – even illustrative of - his canonical personality. As I often say, I’ve known a lot of guys like him, minus the optic blasts.

I do think it's a particularly difficult challenge to take a character who presents as heterosexual in the source text (or whose sexuality isn't explored but is presumed to be heterosexual) and make him credibly gay or bisexual and also still credibly himself. Presumptions of heterosexuality are so entrenched that we need to be very convincing in our portrayal to challenge that presumption and not sound like we’re making up a whole new character. But it's meeting that challenge that's a lot of what I enjoy about writing slash and it's seeing someone else do that well that's a lot of what I like about reading it.

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From:talktooloose
Date:July 27th, 2006 04:48 pm (UTC)
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The kickass activist part of me is jumping up and down in agreement about the "presumption of heterosexuality." If he isn't flaming, he must be straight.

In Bobby/John fic X-movieverse fic (my turf), the facts as presented are that we have two boys with complementary and opposite powers as well as personalities. They are presented as a pair in all three movies, whether as friends or enemies. One does get a girlfriend, but it is a girlfriend he can't touch.

Those are the facts as presented in canon. All of the facts. From there, the slash leap is that Bobby and John are either lovers or covertly invested in each other romantically. It is a typical romance set-up -- opposites attract. The choice of girlfriend is like the choice of many closeted gay men who get into a sexless relationship with a woman to feel "normal".

In other words, as the t-shirt I made you says, "Slash is canon". If the extrapolation can be worked into canon realistically, then it is good fanfic.

Calling slash non-canonic is like objecting to Captain America eating an ice cream cone in a fic because he's never done so in the comics.
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From:mofic
Date:July 27th, 2006 05:58 pm (UTC)
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In other words, as the t-shirt I made you says, "Slash is canon".

And I love you for it.

Calling slash non-canonic is like objecting to Captain America eating an ice cream cone in a fic because he's never done so in the comics.

Well, the difference is that American society isn't full of people who find eating ice cream cones abhorrent and not something a "hero" would do. Which, I think, is where this particular kind of objection to slash comes from.
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From:sydni_64
Date:July 27th, 2006 04:57 pm (UTC)
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It's the only genre I'm aware of where the point, by definition, is to take characters and change their sexual preference. If the definition has changed, I obviously didn't get the memo.

I saw that post yesterday morning and I am still boggling at how anyone could be so woefully (and self-righteously) misguided about what the role of slash is or ever has been. I mean, hell, in slash circles we're still having the argument about whether our characters are still "straight" or not if they're having the hotmansex with their best buds (I say "No," but there are plenty of arguments to the contrary that I respect but fundamentally disagree with).

One commenter in her post pointed out that the OP was taking her own subjective values and mistaking them for objective facts about characterization. For the OP, sexuality is so monumental, and having same-sex sexual relations is such a Huge Step, that no one could possibly do it and remain the same person that they were before. Furthermore, everyone in fandom ought to recognize this to be true--their own experience be damned--and write their fic accordingly. I agree with that commenter's diagnosis of the OP's mistake.

For the OP, I would wager, having a homosexual experience is just so wacky and *different* that unless a character is textually portrayed as "the kind of person who would do such a thing," then it's OOC and there is absolutely nothing, nothing in the world that could bring out homosexual desires in someone. It's a bizarre way of thinking, to my mind.

Not to engage in mere namecalling, but I call that homophobic. Which is not to say the OP is a homophobic person (I don't know her at all well enough to say), but the particular view she's espousing is one that puts queer life so far outside the realm of "normal" and "acceptable" human behavior that one guy kissing another guy stands in need of explanation above and beyond the kind of explanation we might give for anything else a character does. And placing that much value on a character's heterosexuality seems a little homophobic, or at least problematically heternormative, to me. God forbid we should do anything to impugn a character's honor as a straight man!

Anyway, I strongly suspect that the best explanation for why the OP's arguments were so bad was simply that she hasn't read enough slash, and certainly not enough good slash. Of course, she probably never will, since she's not interested. Why in God's name she couldn't have, you know, just gone on happily not reading slash, I'll never guess. And I think it's pretty damn lame of her to slag off an entire group of writers and their work, and then flock her post belatedly when it looked like an actual dialogue might happen. I mean, for instance, mpreg's not my cuppa, so I don't read it. I think the OP has a real problem with the subjectivity/objectivity distinction--just because she doesn't like it doesn't mean that everyone who likes it is doing something wrong and bad and has "no artistic integrity" (which is what she said about slashers).
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From:mofic
Date:July 27th, 2006 06:03 pm (UTC)
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One commenter in her post pointed out that the OP was taking her own subjective values and mistaking them for objective facts about characterization. For the OP, sexuality is so monumental, and having same-sex sexual relations is such a Huge Step, that no one could possibly do it and remain the same person that they were before. Furthermore, everyone in fandom ought to recognize this to be true--their own experience be damned--and write their fic accordingly. I agree with that commenter's diagnosis of the OP's mistake.

I do, too. And I agree that it's a homophobic - or at least heterosexist - world view that leads to that kind thinking. It was interesting to me that she said that her character of choice would never have sex with a man because he was in the US Army, so slashing him was completely changing his character. And when presented with lots of evidence that men in the US Army do have sex with other men (both before and after Don't Ask Don't Tell) her response was fairly telling. She acknowledged that that may happen and said she will read up on the experience of gay men in the army (which was good) but also said that she thought the reason she believed it never would happen was that she lived near Washington, DC. I think it's her lack of openness to experiences outside of her own rather than her location that made for the error, personally. At least the considerable time I've spent in Washington DC didn't stop me from recognizing that there are lots of guys in the army doing it with other guys :-).
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From:beck_liz
Date:July 27th, 2006 06:58 pm (UTC)
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One of the better comments I've seen on this issue is by yahtzee63 here. She points out that altering someone's sexuality is not the biggest possible change in their characterization, and she's so right.

I also agree that a person's on-screen sexuality does not necessarily indicate that they are only heterosexual or only homosexual, or whatever. I think that some of the resistance to changing a person's sexuality in fanfiction comes from the sort of people who are extremely strict adherants to canon, the kind of folks who if they don't see it on-screen, it's not there. (Although with some of those people, it makes me wonder why they write/read fanfic to begin with.) But it's a very different mindset than the way I approach things.
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From:mofic
Date:July 27th, 2006 07:42 pm (UTC)
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That was a good essay (even though I don't know the character or the fandom).

I also wonder why someone who doesn't want to see anything outside of canon would read fanfic. But I think often people really confuse extra-canonical with anti-canonical. Ideally, fanfic should supplement or complement canon, not contradict it.
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From:executrix
Date:July 27th, 2006 08:13 pm (UTC)
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Bouncing up and down about being able to talk about this *in person* in a couple of days...

Well, I save myself a lot of trouble by picking favorite characters who seem to me to be quite credibly queer of some variety or other. But I agree with the first respondent in this thread--if someone's gender performance is conventional, then not only is "100% heterosexual" the presumption, but a lot of readers won't let you rebut the presumption. (Only one t...)

I never lose my sense of innocent amusement and wonder about how the biggest canon nazis can be convinced that, f'rex, Draco is an abused and misunderstood emo woobie, and can churn out bitbuckets full of fiction on that basis. But, of course, they're irate that anyone would change anything as fundamental as his heterosexuality. For that matter, the Harmonians have lost the canon war--is "going to end up with Ginny" a fundamental part of Harry's identity?

And, mo, I think you're on the money about fanfic having the power to be anti-canonical or ortho-canonical, but my deal is that it *can't* be canon. And there's a long tradition of fix-it fics--a lot of Blakes7 fic concerns re-writing the last episode--whether or not they're slashy.

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From:mofic
Date:July 27th, 2006 11:47 pm (UTC)
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I'm looking forward to talking slash for hours, too :-).


I never lose my sense of innocent amusement and wonder about how the biggest canon nazis can be convinced that, f'rex, Draco is an abused and misunderstood emo woobie, and can churn out bitbuckets full of fiction on that basis


That's the thing. I mean you just gave one example but I've never seen anyone of the "Slash is anti-canonical" bent who didn't tolerate all manner of AU and personality change in heterosexual fanfic. So, while on the surface it looks like the argument is "Character X is fundamentally heterosexual and I can't believe in fiction that goes so strongly against canon" underneath it seems to be "My hero queer?!? Eww - you'd better not."
From:thatwordgrrl
Date:July 27th, 2006 08:15 pm (UTC)
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here via hitchhiker :>

Ah, but what if it is stated outright within canon that the character is het?

For example, it is canon within 'Firefly' that Mal Reynolds is het. He was outright asked and gave a forthright answer that he was het in the ep 'Heart of Gold.'

Given that, how does, say, Mal/Jayne or Mal/Simon get explained?

I shall caveat this by saying that I actually am a canon zealot and not terribly fond of slash unless there is some canon justification for it or a damn compelling argument otherwise (and I admit that I find your ScottSlash argument to be intriguing).

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From:executrix
Date:July 27th, 2006 08:23 pm (UTC)

I'd Be Surprisingly Good for You

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Mal says that he "leans toward women" and in the specific context of whether hot-and-cold running rentboys are part of his fee, which would be perfectly consistent with someone who has had, say, 29 female and 4 male partners in the course of his life. I explain Mal/Jayne in terms of Mal's worser self identifying with Jayne and wanting the occasional hand job devoid of certain kinds of complications. And I explain Mal/Simon in terms of their eventually realizing that they love each other and would make a good couple.
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From:talktooloose
Date:July 27th, 2006 08:24 pm (UTC)
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Having had my way with a few str8 boys...

um, never mind...
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From:mofic
Date:July 27th, 2006 08:40 pm (UTC)
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Ah, but what if it is stated outright within canon that the character is het?

For example, it is canon within 'Firefly' that Mal Reynolds is het. He was outright asked and gave a forthright answer that he was het in the ep 'Heart of Gold.'


I know nothing about Firefly. I do know a lot of closeted people who lie about their sexual orientation. I also know a lot of people who identify as heterosexual but have had homosex. I think sexual orientation and sexual behavior are a lot more fluid in real life than the heterosexual/homosexual divide would suggest, and I don't see why they can't be more fluid in fanfic as well.
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From:roxymissrose
Date:July 27th, 2006 11:38 pm (UTC)
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I've been following this discusion from lj to lj, and read the original post. I was floored by what seemed to be her assertion that there were no gay men in the Service, whether she meant of high rank or not I can't remember. My feeling was that she had a perfect right to say what she said in her own lj. I didn't find it homophobic as some people seemed to feel, just naive, ...very, very much so. My pop could have told her that the service (US Army) had (and has)many gay men, enlisted men and officers, and according to him, they were good guys and excellent soldiers, which was all that mattered to him. But that wasn't the main thrust of her post.

My idea about fanfiction and slash of course is it's all 'what if'. I have no thinky reason for doing what I'm doing besides What If. It's fun to imagine my particular pair in different times, circumstances, and to imagine them as in love. That's the only reason for me--"because it's cool."

As for the impossibility of a straight character falling in love with a same sex partner--well, that doesn't wash either. One never knows. And really, those concrete lines are silly. I've been married for years and year, I'm straight, but who I get a crush on (yes, the grade school variety) has all to do with character and looks, and nothing with gender.
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From:mofic
Date:July 28th, 2006 03:30 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for commenting. I agree that fanfic is all about "what if". I like a fairly reality-based what if, but certainly with all the different AUs and other variations out there, there are forms of fanfic that clearly are anti-canonical. So why pick on slash rather than the popular Same Characters/Other Times (some people call it uber) which is by definition anti-canonical?

I've been married for years and year, I'm straight, but who I get a crush on (yes, the grade school variety) has all to do with character and looks, and nothing with gender.

That's interesting, because I think of gender and looks as somewhat related :-). Do you have a particular kind of female look you like, that's distinct from the male look you like? What about character?


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From:ringthebells
Date:July 28th, 2006 01:41 am (UTC)
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My first reaction is really just "well, that's a silly distinction." We change all kinds of things about characters in fanfic. Well, in some fanfic. Fanfic itself runs the gamut from the perfectly-in-line-with-canon "missing scene" type story, to wild AUs where the characters are all stockbrokers on Wall Street instead of teenagers in a demon-infested high school (or whatever!).

As far as canonical sexuality goes, I'd argue that it's almost never cast in stone. After all, for characters on TV and in movies, we know what they say and we know what they do, but we hardly ever know what they think.

Plus, there's the whole question of subtext—you've seen "The Celluloid Closet," right? Which brings up the intriguing reality that not only is subtext sometimes deliberately played into the text—sometimes it's put in there by some of the people involved in the creative process, unbeknownst to other people in the creative process!

I've heard that during the filming of season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the writers had decided that either Willow or Xander was going to come out as gay during season 4. But they hadn't decided which one yet—so they foreshadowed it for both of them! (In Willow's case, the foreshadowing consisted of her alternate-reality vampire self coming on to her. In Xander's case, it consisted of him accidentally coming out as gay to a football player at his school, when what he was trying to do was determine whether the football player was a werewolf. I love my crazy fandom.)

The question of individual chemistry has always seemed much more crucial to me than a character's sexual orientation. Ummm, I'd give examples, but I'm not sure if we have any fandoms in common at all!
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From:mofic
Date:July 28th, 2006 03:36 pm (UTC)
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Fanfic itself runs the gamut from the perfectly-in-line-with-canon "missing scene" type story, to wild AUs where the characters are all stockbrokers on Wall Street instead of teenagers in a demon-infested high school (or whatever!).

Right. So if someone chooses to bash slash (oooh! that rhymes) for being anti-canonical when slash sometimes is and sometimes isn't rather than bash AU which is by definition anti-canonical, do you think there might be a little bit of discomfort with homosexuality in her motivation?

I think I've seen "The Celluloid Closet" but I'm sure I've read and enjoyed the book. I loved your Buffy story.

The question of individual chemistry has always seemed much more crucial to me than a character's sexual orientation.

When we were first getting to know each other, you said something very wise to me on the question of what makes two characters slashable: emotional intensity. I think that's very right, for me, anyway. It's not that they're pretty together (not that there's anything wrong with that); it's that there's something about the way they interact that says the interactions are important to both of them. They might not like each other at all - that's a very popular trope in both slash and in het romance - but there's something big and strong between them. Hmmm, okay that's sounding more racy than I intended, so I'll stop now. Do give me examples - I'll research, if necessary.
From:lord_dingsi
Date:July 28th, 2006 08:26 pm (UTC)

I bring rambling. Lots of. (Sorry for the hijacking...)

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Okay, I know this is only tangential, but this:

The OP felt a little overwhelmed by the number of comments and removed public access to the post.

is pissing me off. It was an interesting discussion, it was an important discussion (at least for me; I read and think a lot about gender, sexuality, glbt subjects - partly because I am a transgendered, non-heteronormative person myself)... and so now I'm begging you: Don't friendslock this post. Please. I mean, seriously.
I know that people have a right to decide whether to friendslock posts or not, and if they don't want comments, okay, I can't force them. But in this case... it's not that I want her to get spammed or flamed or even fandomwanked, it's just that people were telling her stuff about homophobic statements and false assumptions - and not just her, but also the people who happened to read the comments - and now she shut that discussion down. And then Dingsi goes "Why, thankyouverymuch, that sure helped my trust in mankind." Does that make any sense?

During the last few days, I've been thinking about this issue - how people "read" a character as straight, about canon vs. subtext, about subtle homophobia... all that jazz. (Because I stumbled across two fen with the "sorry, but I don't read/allow slash because this character is NOT GAY and making him so is WRONG" viewpoint in a relatively short period of time.)

And I'm... I'm not sure whether some fen even realize that for some other fen - gays, bis, transpeople, non-heteronormative people in general - this is not "just about a character", but also very real and often uncomfortably "about me/us".

Like, whenever I read someone saying that this character never "looked gay", I know that the stereotypes about queer people (in this case, "gays look like ___") are still alive.
Whenever someone argues that being written as gay would do the character "injustice" or "hurt him", I know that being gay is still seen as something that devalues men, that being gay is somehow bad.

And I'm so fucking grateful -- sometimes ridiculosuly grateful, even -- when other fen step in and call out this bullshit and insist on a more fluid sexuality, more fluid gender roles, because this is giving me more room to breathe PERIOD.

Um.

I probably should write a post in my own journal. This wasn't intended to be a long rambly train-of-thought comment, but I got kinda swept away.
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From:mofic
Date:July 28th, 2006 09:04 pm (UTC)

Re: I bring rambling. Lots of. (Sorry for the hijacking...)

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)... and so now I'm begging you: Don't friendslock this post. Please. I mean, seriously.


Do you mean me? Or the OP of the anti-slash post. I don't generally f-lock posts and haven't ever done so after getting comments. The only situation I could see doing that in would be what apparently happened to the OP whose anti-slash post prompted this one: getting picked up by Fandom Wank and being mercilessly mocked. But I think I have a "Get Out of Fandom Wank Free" card from what another commenter on this post said. She says she's a FW person, and they don't comment on the posts they mock. ::whew::

If you meant the OP, it's too late. She already locked her post. And I can't say I blame her. I think her arguments were circular and jejune and really self-absorbed and she hadn't thought much before she posted, but I also think she was very civil to everyone and seemed to want to learn. I think mocking her makes it harder to learn.

Anyway, as a lesbian who writes slash and tries to write a realistic gay experience when I do, I relate to a lot of your ramble.
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From:tacky_tramp
Date:July 29th, 2006 12:45 am (UTC)
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The icon says it all. Thank you for continuing this discussion!
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From:mofic
Date:July 29th, 2006 02:21 am (UTC)
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I live to serve!

Actually I've gained a lot from the discussion, too.
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From:wneleh
Date:July 29th, 2006 07:33 am (UTC)

Slash and canon, perspective from a TS fan

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Okay, let's see if I can do this topic any sort of justice, so that I can get back to sleep.

It's been my impression that the definition of slash has been expanding. At first, it simply meant having two men involved sexually. Then this got augmented to include, more or or less, "who are straight in canon." But now fandom seems to be realizing that this isn't an all-or-nothing thing, and so now it's back to meaning fic about same-sex sex, or at least sexual attraction. So, for a while at least, slash COULDN'T be canon, but now I think it can be.

In my favorite fandom, The Sentinel, I've seen slash done a variety of ways. Some ways are clearly non-canonical: At some point, usually after some episode-related event, Jim and Blair realize they are madly in love, with subsequent events either ignored or reimagined; or they are placed in some sort of AU where sex between them is more-or-less inevitable and the complications that the series provides aren't a factor.

There are also plenty of stories in which Jim and Blair are slashed inside canon, either by providing missing scenes or by having a sexual relationship evolve after the events of the last episode. One of these 'happily ever after' stories is among my all-time favorite fics, but on the whole I'm not a great fan of sentinel slash of any variety, and I think I've finally figured out why. For a long time, I've contended that slashing Jim and Blair diminishes their friendship; I'm fascinated that they stay in each others lives despite the sh*t they encounter, and not-so-rarely throw at each other. The other day, a commenter in another LJ said something along the lines of, his sister postulated that maybe the appeal of slash was that it showed a romantic relationship between physical equals. I thought, that doesn't describe TS slash - most het couples I know are more equal physically than Jim and Blair are - and then I realized that that might be precisely my issue. If Jim and Blair are involved-involved, then a lot of their relationship seems downright pathological. IRL when I see a couple treat each other the way Jim and Blair do I'm really, really scared about what's going on that I *don't* see; and, sadly, usually I've been right to worry.

Then there is also the issue of the sprinkling of het romantic relationships throughout the aired series. These in-of-themselves of course don't mean that Jim and Blair aren't also attracted to men; in fact, if there were only one or two of them, they'd be exhibit A for slash-is-canon, given how shallow and fleeting they seem to be. They certainly leave room for Jim and Blair to engage in non-committed sex. And maybe this *is* the most realistic take on their relationship. But it's not a part of Jim and Blair that I want to know about.

- Helen
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From:mofic
Date:July 29th, 2006 12:38 pm (UTC)

Re: Slash and canon, perspective from a TS fan

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And maybe this *is* the most realistic take on their relationship. But it's not a part of Jim and Blair that I want to know about.

I think we've talked about some of this before. Thanks for writing it all out here. It's slightly different from what I thought your position on Jim/Blair was, so thanks in particular for the clarification.

You've said to me before that you think slashing them diminishes their friendship, but I took that to be in the kind of classic way of viewing male friendship as somehow purer than sexual and/or romantic connection, because it's the marriage of souls, not of base sexual desire. And in this you seem to be saying, instead, that if they do have a sexual relationship it's a fairly dysfunctional one.

I find dysfunctional relationships pretty interesting in fiction. I'm fascinated by why people stay in them, what they get out of them, and even how they can grow and make a relationship work - perhaps - that started badly. I think exploring those issues in fiction is a worthwhile endeavor. My Scott/Logan initially construct a relationship -of sorts - out of intersecting neuroses. They're really pretty horrible to each other! But I think a couple who are horrible to each other but still get something compelling out of the relationship is a phenomenon that happens a lot in real life. And since realism is the cornerstone of slash :-)...
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From:rachel_martin64
Date:July 30th, 2006 02:32 am (UTC)
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I read the OP's post before it disappeared, and I was struck by these comments:

Jack O'Neil is an Air Force colonel when the series starts. He's currently a general. Jack couldn't survive and be the kind of person that he is if he had to hide a sexual orientation that was contrary to military regulations.

Per canon, Jack is concealing a forbidden attraction. To his subordinate, Samantha Carter. If he acted on that attraction and got caught, he’d be punished just as severely as for engaging in a homosexual relationship. The military wouldn’t punish him any less severely because it’s a heterosexual relationship. He’s managing to do a good job of concealing his attraction to Samantha without losing his mind. He still appears to function effectively as a leader. He still gets his job done.

In other words, it is canon that Jack can successfully conceal a sexual attraction that is forbidden by military regulations, and continue to function competently at his job, without suffering a psychiatric melt-down.

It is also canon that Jack can successfully conceal what he does for a living. Concealing the existence of the Stargate, constantly lying about what he does and where he goes, constantly lying about his life experiences, geez, Jack is living in a closet.

This is a character who is skilled at keeping secrets. That is the kind of person he is. No fundamental change to his character is necessary to write him as a closeted gay.

But what disturbs me about slash is the wholesale appropriation and basic, fundamental changes that slash writers make to characters that aren't theirs.

The best fanfic keeps the characters in character. If we can recognize the characters as themselves, that, to me, is good writing. The fun of an AU is that we can still recognize our characters. They still act like themselves. In a good slash story we’re going to recognize the characters as themselves. They do not undergo entire personality transplants.

I guess I don’t see writing a character as gay as making a fundamental change to his personality and character. I am more put off by stories in which Snape is kind, or Draco is nice. I can believe in a gay Wolverine as long as he’s still grumpy and antisocial.

I do remember being unhappy with the Xena/Gabrielle slash, because it seemed to feed into the misogynistic attitude of the men around me that all women are naturally bitchy to each other and incapable of teamwork or true friendship, so if two women can get along then they must be lesbian. I guess that is why I prefer friendship stories between female characters as opposed to femme slash. But I am getting off topic.
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From:wneleh
Date:July 30th, 2006 12:39 pm (UTC)
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The OP's primary issue was with a gay Jack O'Neill?

ITA with everything you say about how Jack operates wrt his attraction to Carter, and hiding what exactly it is he does for a living.

Also - Jack does what he wants to do. Not foolishly, but he just isn't constrained by anyone's rules but his own.

- Helen
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From:mofic
Date:July 30th, 2006 01:20 pm (UTC)
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In other words, it is canon that Jack can successfully conceal a sexual attraction that is forbidden by military regulations, and continue to function competently at his job, without suffering a psychiatric melt-down.

That's interesting. It says something about the OP's views that she saw him having forbidden homosexual desire as so impossible to believe, if canonically he has forbidden heterosexual desire. I think it comes back to viewing sexual orientation as an all or nothing thing and homosexuality as so beyond normal human experience and desire that she just can't believe in it unless the character is depicted as All Gay All the Time.

It also says something about Don't Ask Don't Tell, I think. Note that you talk about attraction he can't act on, but the OP talks about a forbidden orientation. Well, theoretically in DADT the orientation is not forbidden - it's talking about it or acting on it that is. But of course what we've seen is that it's often interpreted in a way consistent with the OP's view, like the army translator who just got discharged because of anonymous letters saying he's gay leading to an investigation of him, even though he refused to tell when asked.

Anyway, thanks for your comments, which gave me more insight into both the issue and the SGA stuff, of which I know nothing.

Some people use a fairly similar argument to your anti-femslash one for anti-m/m slash. They feel like adding sex to a m/m friendship kind of devalues the friendship, suggests that men are all physical and can't have close ties to other men...

I can believe in a gay Wolverine as long as he’s still grumpy and antisocial.

I don't write him as gay exactly, but I'll try to keep writing him as grumpy and antisocial :-).
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